South Africa

Three feisty new models to look forward to

Three feisty new models to look forward to

Virtual launches have become more frequent in a world battling Covid-19. Of the new product slew announced last week – and there were many – we picked three especially relevant choices the South African market can look forward to.

A sporting, rear-wheel drive sedan, a tough but handsome pickup and a sport-utility vehicle from a brand that the nation has a long-standing love affair with, here they are in alphabetical order.

LEXUS IS

The fourth-generation version of the BMW 3-Series-fighting Japanese sedan is on the way. Hard to believe the IS nameplate is two decades old this year – and what a far cry the latest iteration is from the original.

Aesthetically, the revisions compared to the outgoing car are rather obvious. From the dramatic pleats and aggressive stance, to the in-your-face grille executed in a way that only Lexus can, it certainly makes a statement.

In an era where automated technology is at the fore, self-proclaimed driving enthusiasts may take heart in hearing that Lexus sought to focus especially on the person behind the wheel. According to chief engineer Naoki Kobayashi, the mandate was to develop a “car that excelled in communicating with the driver”.

Like you, we look forward to putting that claim to the test. Though bear in mind that this is not a newly-developed model from the ground-up. Rather, consider it an extensive revision of the third-generation vehicle.

Now, aside from those classical driver-centric features of a performance-orientated saloon, customers can also expect more in the way of infotainment. This includes a new digital interface with a touchscreen, which may remedy gripes about the mouse-pad set-up of before.

Lexus South Africa says three model derivatives can be expected on local shores, to be confirmed closer to launch in 2021.

MAZDA BT-50

The outgoing Mazda BT-50 was forever stuck in the shadow of the Ford Ranger, to which it owed most of its make-up. Perhaps in this latest guise of the pickup, it will have an opportunity to shine in its own right.

That said, there is a relation we simply need to mention. The new BT-50 shares its DNA with the next-generation Isuzu D-Max. By no means a bad thing – the latter is, after all, regarded highly in the category, with an irreproachable reputation for durability.

The Mazda will of course benefit from an extra dollop of style. You will agree that its “Soul of Motion” and “Kodo” design philosophies have been translated rather exquisitely into the double-cab body template.

Inside, its makers say that occupants will revel in an atmosphere with a premium character. It certainly looks promising in the images, with the potential of sophisticated embellishments, plush upholstery and a button-festooned centre stack punctuated by a colour screen.

VOLKSWAGEN T-ROC

Times change. Look at the Volkswagen evolution. The Beetle was a mainstay for decades. Its popularity was supplanted by the Golf. And the Golf, in the context of our market anyway, is no longer the blitzer of sales charts it once was. Enter the T-Roc.

The C-segment sport-utility vehicle is bound to strike a chord with South African shoppers. Expect seating for five, enough cargo compartment for most families’ grocery forays (445l), downright attractive styling and the inherent cachet that comes with the emblem.

The model is 80mm longer than the T-Cross launched last year, though it is 162mm shorter than the Tiguan, so the role it serves in the product portfolio is well-defined. Sitting above it in the hierarchy is the Tiguan Allspace and Touareg.

Its makers also say this is the first time a Volkswagen sport-utility vehicle can be ordered with two-tone paintwork. In effect, there are 26 different colour options. It was announced locally this week – but pricing will only be made official in August.

Two petrol engines are on offer. First up is a 1.4 TSI (110kW and 250Nm), while the 2.0 TSI serves 140kW and 320Nm. The former uses an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox, while the latter has a seven-speed DSG with 4Motion all-wheel drive.